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Could the replication crisis be good for science?

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What’s hot? What’s not?/Niklas Bildhauer, Wikimedia

An educational psychologist sees a silver lining:

The Reproducibility Project, a collaboration of 270 psychologists, has attempted to replicate 100 psychology studies, while a 2018 report examined studies published in the prestigious scholarly journals Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015. These efforts find that about two-thirds of studies do replicate to some degree, but that the strength of the findings is often weaker than originally claimed.Eric Loken, “The replication crisis is good for science” at The Conversation


Okay, so that’s not the silver lining. This is:

Awareness about the replication crisis appears to be promoting better behavior among scientists. Twenty years ago, the cycle for publication was basically complete after a scientist convinced three reviewers and an editor that the work was sound. Yes, the published research would become part of the literature, and therefore open to review – but that was a slow-moving process.

Today, the stakes have been raised for researchers. They know that there’s the possibility that their study might be reviewed by thousands of opinionated commenters on the internet or by a high-profile group like the Reproducibility Project. Some journals now require scientists to make their data and computer code available, which makes it likelier that others will catch errors in their work. What’s more, some scientists can now “preregister” their hypotheses before starting their study – the equivalent of calling your shot before you take it.Eric Loken, “The replication crisis is good for science” at The Conversation

However, that lining is rather thin. Only one in four scientists uses these “open science” techniques.

Maybe the best thing to come out of it is that many people will realize that one can’t just trust science blindly, as if there were a built-in reason why findings that don’t sound right couldn’t be wrong.

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See also: Does liberal bias deepen the replication crisis in psychology? Consider the sheer number of ridiculous Sokal hoaxes that have played psychology journals. That would only be possible in an environment that is so overwhelmingly of one persuasion that few academics step back and say things like “What? ‘Misgendering’ dogs? This is ridiculous! They daren’t because someone’s feelings might be hurt.

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